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  • Pyongyang Metro

    http://www.pyongyang-metro.com/

    Our knowledge of few places on earth is more deliberately obfuscated than is our knowledge of North Korea, and this site is confirmation of that fact.
    The two definitely-known facts about the Pyongyang Metro are that it exists and people use it. As you read around the site, you'll learn that no definitive answer exists regarding even the number of lines (there are at least 2--that much is known), much less the total length of the system. Maps of the city don't indicate where the stations are. No one knows how many cars operate on the lines. Etc.
    I find stuff like this utterly fascinating--and not a little -like. Maybe you will agree.

    Edit: no need to obfuscate obfuscate by misspelling it.

  • #2
    Yeah, that's really interesting. For some reason it makes me think of the Poe (Edgar Allan) story where the guy paints a tunnel that somehow gives the narrator the impression that it is deep underground. Also, obvious, it reminds me of that thing you (I think it was you) linked to where people are screening films in abandoned underground urban spaces. Cool stuff, and I think stuff like this help explain why the labyrinth is such a powerful image in contemporary fiction (or whatever else).

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    • #3
      Fascinating.

      Originally posted by pyongyang metro
      The total length of the public system is probably around 22.5 km, of which the Chollima line is about 12 km and the Hyoksin line about 10.

      Like most North Korean statistics, this figure may be inaccurate, as it has been reported since the mid-1980s, and may not include the nearly 2 km between Ponghwa and Puhung, opened in 1987; if this is so the system is approximately 24 km. Some sources claim 34 km, of which the Chollima line is 14 km and the Hyoksin line 20 km, however this figure may be arrived at by adding the original 24 km mentioned above and a planned 10-km extension to Mangyongdae, and thus likely does not refer to the systemís current length.
      -like indeed!

      Thanks, John!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MoleculaRR
        Also, obvious, it reminds me of that thing you (I think it was you) linked to where people are screening films in abandoned underground urban spaces..
        That was here.

        It seems the so-called 'Mexicaine de perforation' even have a Wikipedia article devoted to them now.

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        • #5
          The more I read on this site, the stranger, less real, the place becomes:

          As originally planned, The Pyongyang metro normally operated in four-car single units with 5-7 minute headway. During peak hours headway was as low as 2 minutes. Hours of service were 5:30 - 23:30. However, the Metro likely now only runs at certain hours of the day, essentially as a commuter rail service (in the mornings and evenings on workdays); reports exist of peak service using only 3-car trains at 7-minute intervals, resulting in severe overcrowding. As an economy measure, the entire service is said to close on the first Monday of each month, and perhaps more often. Station lights are dim or switched off altogether, and many sources report that trains in tunnels are often caught by power cuts, forcing passengers to wait in the darkness, sometimes for hours.

          Indeed, whether the Metro is in regular service at all is not entirely certain. Practically the only non-North Korean eyewitnesses to Metro use are the visitors given the showcase ride on the system.
          What follows this is that "the showcase ride" consists of boarding at one pre-designated station and getting off at the very next one, thus spawning a rumor that those were the only stations that exist. And on and on.

          It reminds me of a Kafka novel.

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          • #6
            Hah- tonight is Japan-North korea in a world cup qualifier, and I was talking to my colleagues in the staffroom about it at lunch. Now if there's one country the Japanese dislike, it's good ol' NK: I'll recklessly allow hirata-sensei to speak for the nation:

            "So north korea is bad country. Maybe if team loses, they will be dead. They are not free, like we are free."

            The disputable nature of his last comment aside (are you really free when you work from 7am until 8.30 pm?), it's interesting for me as he's usually so open to foreign countries/cultures. Something about those North koreans really riles him tho, and there's a bizarre tendency here to blame bad things that happen on them. Second typhoon of the week? Those damn north-korea-jin must be up to something...

            Anyway, i'm about an hour's flight from S Korea here so I may be heading over soon. If you never hear from me again, assume i tried to infiltrate the north to check out this metro and am still there, wandering around its infinite tracks...

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            • #7
              This is really interesting John, that places such as this still exist on Earth, that no one really know anything about. By that I mean on the surface of the Earth, but it puts me in mind of the deep of the sea yet to be explored. Probably not put my point across very well there, but you get what I'm trying to say?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Farehamer
                This is really interesting John, that places such as this still exist on Earth, that no one really know anything about. By that I mean on the surface of the Earth, but it puts me in mind of the deep of the sea yet to be explored. Probably not put my point across very well there, but you get what I'm trying to say?
                Yes. I see what you're getting at. What gets me is that this place is a man-made and PUBLIC space (to the extent that public space can exist, in a Western sense, in North Korea). In the U.S., we have something in Nevada called Area 51: a top-secret military facility that officially does not exist. I'm cool with that sort of thing--Area 51 was never intended to be public space, so I don't tend to worry too much about it. But the Pyongyang Metro is different precisely because it's a public space, it physically exists, yet so little basic, generally-available information exists for it. To me, it's more mysterious than some difficult-to-reach natural space like the Marianas Trench . . . and it's clear that that mystery is deliberately created, which, of course, makes it all the more intriguing. Which also explains in large measure why I keep coming back to the forum, hoping y'all will figure out this damned novel.

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                • #9
                  The notion that the metro may be an illusion has much to recommend it.

                  You may be familiar with North Korea's "Freedom village." It is a collection of 2-D s and shops (like a movie set)--all very quaint, neat and pastoral, with nothing behind the facades and no people living there, a few miles north of the DMZ.

                  It is all a front, a ruse, to try to convince the people with the binoculars on the other side of the line of NK's "prosperity."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Raminagrobis
                    Originally posted by MoleculaRR
                    (I think it was you)
                    That was here.
                    Ah yes of course. So sorry.

                    And speaking of constructed, artificial, or mysterious public spaces, here's one that's right down the road from me. It's an idyllic suburban America owned (and copyrighted) by Disney. I've never been there, but I've heard they have fake birds that sing year round. According to their schedule of events, it snows there in the winter.

                    Anyway, it's not quite as bizarre as the illusory metro, but definitely creepy.

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                    • #11
                      Coincidentally, here's a critique of it.

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                      • #12
                        And, here's the Japanese equivalent, near where I live. They've recreated a Dutch town in its entirety; apparently the eventual plan is to have people live there but for now it's a rather eerie but very popular tourist attraction.

                        Originally posted by website 'history'
                        In October 1988, construction of Ten Bosch started. A network of over 6 kilometers of canals was created, replicas of famous Dutch buildings were built, and over 400,000 trees and 300,000 flowers were planted. Ten Bosch (named after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands' official residence) has become a place where nature and classic Dutch architecture are in harmony.

                        In order to capture the charm and beauty of a 17th century Dutch town, numerous historical landmarks were painstakingly duplicated. In order to ensure their authenticity even the bricks were imported from The Netherlands. On March 25, 1992 Ten Bosch opened its gates. The total costs of the project were $2.5 billion.

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                        • #13
                          Very reminiscent of the Truman Show.

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                          • #14
                            North Korea is fascinating- I hadn't really considered it before, but the more one reads...

                            Here are some pics of various enormous monuments in Pyongyang, from the travelogue of someone who went there. I didn't realise- apparently you have to be accompanied by a guide 24/7 while you stay in NK...

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                            • #15
                              A friend of mine, to whom I recently sent this link, commented: "Kim Il Sung always looks like he is advertising Colgate".

                              Figured it was worth a *bump*

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